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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Now: Biden-McCarthy Deal Faces Crucial Test in House; Pentagon: Chinese Jet Unsafely Intercepted U.S. Plane; Drone Attack On Moscow Follows Deadly Russian Strike On Kyiv; Human Rights Group Fears More Protesters Will Be Executed in Iran; Opening Statements In Trial for Shooting At Tree of Life Synagogue; Texas AG Ken Paxton Awaits State Senate Trial After Impeachment Vote. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 30, 2023 - 16:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're watching the first major test of that Biden-McCarthy debt deal.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Right now, right this moment, legislation to raise the debt limit is facing its first hurdle as a new problem for Speaker McCarthy has emerged. The rebellious conservative Freedom Caucus, including some members, threatening to oust McCarthy over this deal.

Plus, Russia's capital city attacked. Putin, of course, blames Ukraine. Putin's threat after a series of drone strikes hit an upscale area of Moscow.

And the trial begins for the gunman behind the deadliest attack on Jews in American history at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue in 2018. The shooter has not disputed he was the one pulling the trigger. So, why did his lawyer enter a plea of not guilty?


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with our money lead, and a make-or-break moment on Capitol Hill. Right now, the powerful Rules Committee is debating the bipartisan debt ceiling deal that President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy struck over the weekend to try to avoid an economic catastrophe. But there are multiple hard line Republicans on that very committee, the Rules Committee, who are furious with the deal. They have the chance to derail it all right now.

One of those conservatives, Congressman Chip Roy of Texas, joined his Freedom Caucus earlier today to urge the entire House Republican Caucus to vote no.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): They're out there watching this, every one of my colleagues, be very clear. Not one Republican should vote for this deal. It is a bad deal.

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): Every Republican should oppose it. No Republican should vote to validate, affirm and own Biden's agenda. That's what this bill does.


TAPPER: Let's get straight to CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

And, Manu, what's going on in this Rules Committee meeting right now?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, right now, this is the first step in the legislative process. This committee most approve a rule to ensure the bill can be approved tomorrow by a majority vote. There are nine Republicans on the committee, four Democrats. They are two of the most outspoken critics of this bill on the committee. It's part of the deal that Kevin McCarthy made to become speaker in January, agreed to put conservative hardliners on this committee, two of them, Chip Roy and Ralph Norman. The third, Thomas Massie, has not said how he would come out in favor of the bill.

Now, if he, Massie, that would vote no, that could complicate things substantially. That means six Republicans in favor of it, if Democrats vote no, it could stall the bill going forward. Now, an added complication is that Chip Roy's contention that a private deal was made in January where Kevin McCarthy said all nine Republicans on the committee must agree in order to consider legislation on the floor.

That's been disputed by McCarthy's allies. They do agree that McCarthy agreed that seven Republicans have to agree on any legislation in the Rules Committee for the full House to consider that respective bill on the floor. That's why right now the focus is on Thomas Massie of Kentucky and whether he decides to break with the speaker and vote against it. That could significantly complicate things going forward.

The expectation, though, Jake, is that Massey will be in line with the speaker. He has not said so publicly yet. That's what the Republican leadership is banking on at this moment in this key first step for this bill, Jake.

TAPPER: Manu, how seriously should we take these frustrated Republicans now threatening to oust Speaker McCarthy?

RAJU: Yeah, this is an early discussion that is happening. It's a threat that's constantly over the speaker's head. It's something that has become more of a discussion in recent days amid the anger on the far right over this deal that was cut. Remember, it's part of also the deal for McCarthy to become speaker, he agreed for one single member can call for a vote seeking his ouster. And right now, there's some discussion about doing that as Republicans grapple with how to fight this bill.


ROY: What I said was we've got to relook at how our leadership structure is in place, something like that, on Glenn's show, because we can't do what we're doing right now. We were being very successful for five months. This was a mistake. We abandoned the structure that was making us successful. So, we're going to have to rethink it all.

RAJU: How much confidence do you have in the speaker right now?

REP. DAN BISHOP (R-NC): None, zero. What basis is there for confidence? You cannot forfeit the tool of Republican unity. It was not necessary to do.


RAJU: So, at that press conference earlier today, Bishop and all the Republicans were asked which of them would agree to seek a vote of the speaker's ouster. Bishop raised his hand that he would.


He later told reporters there's been a discussion of 20 or so members about how to proceed. Right now, those hardliners are focusing on trying to defeat this bill. Then they say they'll worry about going after the speaker potentially. The speaker himself says he's not worried. They expect the bill to pass tomorrow and said he's not concerned about his hold over the speakership -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks.

To the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue we go, where we find CNN's Phil Mattingly at the White House.

And, Phil, is the White House confident this bill will still be alive at the end of the day?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, I think senior White House officials, particularly those negotiating this agreement were clear-eyed there would be backlash, not just from conservative Republicans, but progressives inside their own caucuses when this actually came into view, when the full text was actually out and in public. While they are very cognizant of the fact that it is still a rocky path forward to get this to the president's desk, they're working on the assurances from the speaker and hips negotiating team that they'll have the necessary Republican votes to get this across the finish line, particularly in the House and on to the Senate.

Now, when you talk to White House officials, they made clear from their perspective, Republican votes are the job of the Republican leadership team. That's what they're focused on. They believe in signing off on this deal, they had the commitment to get the requisite number of votes in order to get this across the finish line.

The focus from the White House has been on their own members, on House Democrats, on Senate Democrats, making sure they're informed of what's in the bill, making sure they're available for any questions they may have about some policies, particularly when it comes to the work requirement side of the bill or just the overall spending caps in the bill that unsettled some Democratic members.

Jake, there have been more than 60 phone calls from administration officials to Democrats on Capitol Hill. There's a series of briefings set up throughout the course of this week, trying to let members know why they think that this was the best-case scenario of a negotiation in divided government, and why they think Democrats should be on board with this going forward.

That said, they're very cognizant of the fact that this is not a sure thing, this is not a done deal. They do believe the agreement is good enough to get across the finish line and they believe the signoff on the Republican speaker and Republican negotiating team should help get it across the finish line, but they know there is work to come. One thing one administrative officials said, we can't jam members and force them to vote. What we need to do is educate them, let them know what's in it, and let them know the downside of not passing it. That, of course, Jake, would be default.

TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly at the White House for us, thanks so much.

Joining us to discuss, Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado.

Congressman, how worried are you right now that the bill won't make it out of the Rules Committee?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Well, Jake, I have no reason to believe it's not going to make it out of the rules committee. We have a few vocal members in that committee who are talking about this unanimity requirement, which of course nobody in the Republican conference has told me is actually a thing.

So, there seem -- they're making up a whole cloth. I have no reason to believe they're going to call us back to town like they have and they're not going to have the votes to get it out of rules.

TAPPER: Where do you think progressive Democrats are? I interviewed Pramila Jayapal on Sunday, and she said that there was a -- there's still an issue with the work requirements, for SNAP recipient and others. Have you talk to progressive colleagues? Where are they?

CROW: Yeah, I have. I mean, listen, I'm actually a progressive in a lot of ways. I'm very progressive on domestic policies. I've talked to Pramila Jayapal and others about it. I'm sure their concerns about work requirements because they don't really -- they don't really work. They're not effective. They're not grounded in reality and good policy, right?

They're grounded in this notion that people are just taking food stamps and taking assistance, and they're not working. They're choosing not to work. That's just not my experience. That's not my experience at all. People are hungry. People are without work. They are struggling. They

are oftentimes living in food deserts where they have to take public transportation. It's very hard for them to balance two or three jobs and feed their children.

So, I certainly don't support those requirements. Sometimes legislating is choosing between the least great options. What I do know for sure is that we cannot default on our national debt, throw our country into a recession, lose hundreds of thousands of jobs, and for the first time in American history, undermined the full faith and credit of our government.

So, there are things in this bill that I'm not happy with. There are things in the bill that I am fairly happy with. But we have to get this done.

TAPPER: Take a listen to your colleague, Congressman Jamaal Bowman, he says one of his biggest concerns is non-defense discretionary spending. Take a listen.


REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): While the defense budget continues to go up, our ability to feed our children goes down. Our ability to educate our children goes down. Our ability for workforce development goes down. And our ability to meet the complex needs of the most vulnerable Americans goes down.


TAPPER: It seems like the only thing that McCarthy and Biden were 100 percent in agreement on was don't touch the defense budget, and don't touch the V.A. budget.


I certainly understand wanting to honor our commitment to veterans. But can you explain to our viewers why the defense budget is bigger now than it was when we were fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

CROW: Well, it's pretty hard to explain, Jake. And I actually couldn't agree more with my colleague Jamaal Bowman. He's absolutely right. And this is coming from somebody who is one of the most ardent defense Democrats in the House. And I sit on the national security committees, I fought for our country as an army ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan. I always put national defense and our national security as one of our top priorities.

But listen, if people are hungry, if we're not educating our folks, if our infrastructure is falling apart, and if our country is not strong in those fundamental ways. Then what is our ability to defend ourselves in the military? We can have the best military in the world, but if people are hungry, and the fabric of our society is disintegrating, then what does it matter? So I agree with Jamaal, and I think it's a mistake to do it. But

again, this comes back to the fact that we don't control the House. Democrats don't control the House. Speaker McCarthy is sitting in that seat right now, and until we can change that, we are going to have to find the best possible deal forward to prevent a national default.

TAPPER: Well, it's not as if President Biden was ever proposing cuts to the defense budget. And, look, if the money was going to salaries for our fighting men and women that would be one thing. But how much of this money is going into defense contractors? How much is going to Raytheon and General Dynamics? Money -- and why can't any of it be touched?

CROW: Yeah, listen, you are preaching to the choir here, right? There is plenty of opportunities for us to find more efficiency, to get rid of some of these bloated programs that really, frankly, aren't even the interest of our national security. I can give example after example of things that we fund that are in the defense budget, that actually don't further our ability to deter China, that don't to help Ukraine, that don't feed our hungry servicemen and women, that are actually not making our military bases better places to live, for our military families.

There's lots of issues that we need to address in the defense budget. There's no doubt about that. And I agree with you. I do not think it's a good idea to freeze everything else, but allow increases in the defense budget.

But Democrats do not control the House of Representatives right now. Republicans do. They've established that is the red line. We are trying to negotiate the best we can to prevent a national default.

TAPPER: I mean, sure, right now. But when you control the House, it was the same thing, too, when it came to the Pentagon budget in terms of what President Biden was proposing. But we are in the hearing now.

Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado, thanks so much.

Coming up, I'm going to talk to Republican Congressman Ken Buck who has been a vocal critic of this debt deal and asked what he's hearing from party members. Apparently, it's Colorado here at THE LEAD.

Plus, the large scale drone attack on Russia today, and the response from Ukraine when Putin looked across the border to place blame.

And what CNN is learning about an encounter from a Chinese fighter jet in a U.S. aircraft over the South China Sea. We are going to go live to the Pentagon with this new reporting.



TAPPER: Just in to our world lead, the U.S. Air Force just released new video showing what the Air Force calls an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver by a Chinese military pilot right in front of a U.S. aircraft.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live for us at the Pentagon.

Oren, tell us what happened.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we're just getting this information for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. They say a Chinese fighter's jet, J16, on Friday, intercepted a U.S. spy plane in the international airspace over the South China Sea. They're calling it an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver as part of the intercept.

Take a look here. This is from the cockpit of the U.S. aircraft, RC- 135. That Chinese fighter jet off to the right here, as it cuts in front, essentially slices right in front of the U.S. aircraft. Fairly close range. That turbulence there, that's from wiped turbulence off the back of that Chinese fighter jet.

Again, the U.S. is calling this an aggressive maneuver, saying that it was essentially unsafe and unprofessional. We have seen intercepts like this, this sort of tension between Chinese fighter jets and U.S. aircraft before. In fact, there was one of December. A different type of Chinese fighter jet. But essentially the same situation.

The U.S. said that they are fighter jet came within 20 feet in that instance of the same U.S. aircraft, the RC-135 Rivet Joint.

The U.S.'s position is clear here. They insist they will continue to operate in a safe and professional maneuver, anywhere essentially the international law allows. And therein lies the dispute. For the U.S., airspace over much of the South China Sea is international airspace, over international waters.

China however claims much of the South China Sea as its own territorial waters, and therefore, believes it was the U.S. invading on their territory. A position the U.S. does not recognize. It is at this one in a number of elements or aspects adding tension to the relationship between Beijing and Washington at this point. We are seeing that play out in a different environment as well, Jake.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in the Indo-Pacific for the Shangri-la dialogue. He was trying to set a meeting with his China counterpart. China rejecting that dialogue, Jake.

So, you see that tension playing out across different aspects of the relationship.

TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann, thanks so much.

Also in our world lead, plumes of smoke rising above Moscow today after an attack involving eight drones hit the Russian capital, injuring two people, damaging several buildings. Russian authorities are blaming Ukraine for the drone attack, calling it terrorist activity, but Ukrainian authorities deny any direct involvement.

And as CNN's Sam Kiley reports for us from eastern Ukraine, this strike comes as Kyiv was attacked by Russia for the 17th time this month.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Same war, different capital. Moscow hit by a squadron of eight drones.

PAVEL BOZHGO, MOSCOW RESIDENT (through translator): There was a deafening bang as if a huge bolt of lightning had struck somewhere near. The attack was immediately blamed on Ukraine which reels daily from Russian air assaults.

SERGEI SHOIGU, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): This morning, the Kyiv regime carried out a terrorist attack on the Moscow region. And I will stress, aimed at civilian targets. In total, eight airplane type drones were used.


All of them were brought down.

KILEY: Kyiv was coy about its role in this drastic escalation.

MYKHAILO PODOLYAK, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: But, of course, we enjoy watching and predicting increasing and checks. We have nothing to do directly with it. What is growing in Russia is the karmic (ph) payment that Russia will gradually pay more highly for everything it does in Ukraine.

KILEY: Ukraine's threatening an offensive to drive Russian troops out. Part of its tactics have been increased efforts to destabilize Moscow's forces.

Across border raid by anti-Putin Russian dissidents was backed by Ukraine last week.

Frequent attacks on Russian occupied logistic hubs, like Mariupol and Berdyansk, and now, there's a mysterious drone attack that Russia has blamed on Ukraine.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Though, I'm more worried, not by this, but by efforts to provoke a Russian response. That appears to be the aim. They are provoking us to do the same.

KILEY: But this is the first drone attack by anyone on Moscow outside the Kremlin.

Here, Kyiv, attacked for the 17th time this month.

Putin's generals now know that they face attacks on Ukraine's front lines, and at home.


KILEY (on camera): Now Jake, the timing of that counteroffensive looks a little bit more imminent following a statement from President Zelenskyy, saying, and I'm paraphrasing here, essentially they've got the man, they've got the material, they've got the decision taken, and that he has actually already decided on the date. Now, that may well be the case, but it also sends a signal, again, part of the working on the psychology of the Russian command structures, and ordinary Russian soldiers, telling them that something dreadful is coming their way.

And I think that's how we should see these other shaping up operations, too, all about trying to keep the Russians off balance, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sam Kiley for us in Eastern Ukraine, thank you so much.

Also in our world lead, Iran is once again silencing those who publicly criticize the Iranian regime. Authorities recently executed three men in connection to last year's nationwide anti-government protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Jina Amini last September.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz talked to a human rights advocate who warns more unjust executions are imminent.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside a jail near Tehran, families of prisoners gathered, chant, "Do not hang them".

Their pleas come as Iran resumes the execution of protesters after a months-long hiatus. The brutal practice restarted this month, with the hanging of three young men accused of killing three members of the security forces during anti-government protests in November. The news sparked more demonstrations.

But activists and human rights groups say the allegations against the trio are baseless.

Majid Kazemi was forced to watch video of interrogators torturing his brother, and he was subject to at least 15 mock executions, according to Amnesty International. In an audio note obtained by the organization, he maintained his innocence. CNN cannot independently verify the clip

They kept beating me and ordering me to say this weapon is mine, he says. I told him I would say whatever I wanted. Just please leave my family alone.

Before his execution, the family of 36-year-old Saleh Mirhashemi, a karate coach from Isfahan, tried to draw attention to his plight. This picture of his father's spread on social media. My son is innocent, the sign reads.

But to no avail, activists shared this heartbreaking video they say is Mirhashemi's dad hugging his picture as he laid by his son's grave. Iran has not responded to CNN's request for comment.

The total number of demonstrators known to have been executed since last year now stands at seven, according to CNN reporting. And more executions are likely imminent.

Over 100 protesters have been sentenced to death, or are facing charges punishable by death, says this human rights activist.

MAHMOOD AMIRY-MOGHADDAM, IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS NGO DIRECTOR: When authorities fear protest for right after protest, a number of executions go up. The aim is to create fear in this society to prevent more protests.

ABDELAZIZ: Do you expect that the number of executions is going to rise even more this year?

AMIRY-MOGHADDAM: It is rising already. Unless the international community makes a strong move against these executions, we might be facing a very large number of executions in the coming months.


ABDELAZIZ: Rights groups say that Mohammad Ghobadlou, a 22-year-old protester with a mental health issue, could be one of the next victims of Iran's execution machine. Activists are ringing the alarm. They say yet another Iranian faces death, just for daring to speak out.


ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Jake, the one thing that all activists say they need the most is to draw attention to what is happening in Iran, is to put pressure on the Tehran government, so these executions, this crackdown, doesn't happen in silence.

TAPPER: All right. Salma Abdelaziz, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Here in the United States, opening statements today in the trial over that horrific mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018. Now, prosecutors say they plan to prove the gunman was motivated by hate.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our law and justice lead now. The deadliest antisemitic attack in American history is getting its moment in court.

Today, opening statements began in the trial for the admitted gunman who shot and killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October of 2018. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

CNN's Danny Freeman was in the courthouse today, where the scene was both emotional and intense.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four and a half years after the deadliest antisemitic attack in modern U.S. history, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial finally began this morning. Loved ones of the victims arriving with police escorts and hugging each other in front of the court.

STEPHEN COHEN, CO-PRESIDENT OF NEW LIGHT CONGREGATION: Today is another chapter, and hopefully, almost a final or closing chapter of what happened four and a half years ago.

FREEMAN: Defendant Robert Bowers accused of killing 11 Jewish worshippers and wounding several others in October 2018 sat in the courtroom wearing a collared shirt and olive sweater, actively speaking with his attorneys. All while the government graphically laid out the deadly rampage he's accused of committing.

Federal prosecutors said in the months leading up to the shooting, Bowers looked up Jewish organizations and posted antisemitic and anti- immigrant rhetoric online. Then that Saturday morning, Bowers armed herself several handguns an AR-15, and a shotgun, and drove to the synagogue. The prosecution said Bowers then methodically went through the synagogue, and hunted Jewish worshippers, sometimes shooting victims at such close range they had singe marks on the rifle that killed them.

Ninety-seven-year-old Rose Mallinger was shot through the head while hiding behind a pew. Her daughter hid from Bowers under her body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very horrific crime scene. It's one of the worst that I've seen.

FREEMAN: After a shootout with members of the Pittsburgh police SWAT team, Bowers surrendered. An officer asked him why he had done this, prosecutor Sue Song (ph) told jurors he responded in part, all Jews need to die. The Jews are killing our kids.

In her opening statement, Bowers defense attorney Judy Clark called her client's actions incomprehensible and inexcusable, saying there will be no doubt asked who shot 11 congregants and wounded several others. But Clark said the jury must determine if his quote, irrational motive and his misguided intent applied to the federal charges Bowers faces. Twenty-two of the 63 charges against Bowers are eligible for the death penalty.

Steve Cohen is the co-president of New Light, one of the three congregations attacked at the synagogue that day.

STEPHEN COHEN, CO-PRESIDENT, NEW LIGHT CONGREGATION: It's like, today is a beautiful day. And there's not a cloud in the sky, it's sunny, it's warm. But there is this huge cloud that sits over our head. It's an ugly gray, rainy, sleep filled cloud.

And we want that cloud to go away. This is the beginning of that process.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FREEMAN (on camera): Now, Jake, a court just adjourned today for the afternoon. And I've got to say, it's been an intense day for the opening day of this trial. And I just want to express one thing to illustrate how intense and emotional this day was. We heard a 911 call from 84-year-old Bernice Simon from inside that synagogue that day. She was calling as the shooter, you can hear on the 911 call, was shooting all across the synagogue. She said I'm scared to death, and then we heard that phones go silent, when she was ultimately killed. Jake.

TAPPER: Danny Freeman, thanks so much, appreciate it.

Let's bring in CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig and Michael Bernstein, who is the chair of the Tree of Life Interim Governance Committee, which is an organization that grew from this horrible tragedy.

Elie, you heard the defense argued that the admitted gunman had, quote, misguided intent, acknowledging that he wanted to kill Jews, but saying he did so because, quote, he somehow believed they were doing something so disastrously wrong and devastating to others and, the children that he had to act, unquote. But what you make of this defense?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jake, every criminal defendant is entitled to defense, it's an important part of our constitutional democracy. I think this particular defense is truly preposterous. It's not even an actual defense, to argue that someone acted for misguided or irrational reasons.

I mean, the vast majority of murders are done for irrational, misguided reasons. The vast majority of all crimes are fall in that category. Imagine if it was a defense. We live in chaos.

And it's important to understand what this is not. This is not an insanity or mental incapacity defense, because in the federal system, if you're going to raise that kind of defense, you have to serve formal notice to the judge and the prosecutor in advance. That's not been done here. So, this is a different kind of defense, and I think it's very, very likely to fail.

TAPPER: Michael, you live near the synagogue, you've talked to how you could hear the gunshots the morning of the shooting.


How is the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, the Tree of Life Synagogue community doing right now, as this trial begins?

MICHAEL BERNSTEIN, CHAIR, TREE OF LIFE INTERIM GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE: Yeah, thanks, Jake. Well, I think the community is certainly on edge. We've been waiting a long time for this trial. And I know the families of the victims, as well as the survivors. It was a very emotional time.

At the same time, we're a strong community. We're truly blessed here in Pittsburgh to not only have a strong Jewish community, but I think the broader community as well. And so, over the last four and a half years, we've been helped by our neighbors and by others.

And so, I think we're ready for this, and as Steven Cohen said just leading up to this, I think we're ready to get this behind us so we can move on.

TAPPER: And, Elie, we need to remember the context, because it's important here. This is October of 2018. Many figures on the right wing of this country, politicians and right-wing media, we're focused at that moment, on a caravan of migrants coming to the U.S. with the fearmongering allegation that this was all funded by George Soros, and other wealthy Jews, as part of this deranged white replacement theory, changing the demographics of America.

It seems as though did the defense is leading up to saying, look this false theory was out there, my client acted on it, but he didn't make up this insane conspiracy theory.

HONIG: That is what it seems like the defenses Jake. The defense lawyer actually made an interesting strategic decision. She actually said to the jury, my client has had firearms for a long time.

He's been an anti-Semite for a long time, but he didn't actually take action until he essentially started going online and was weaponized. Now again, that's not technically a defense. The fact that somebody is radicalized by things they see it is not a criminal defense. I think what the defense lawyers trying to do here is set the stage for sentencing, where she will argue my client was weak minded and gave into these things. He saw online and therefore, you should sentence him to life in jail instead of death.

TAPPER: Speaking of the death penalty, Michael, family members of nine of the 11 victims, nine of them, have called for the government to receive the death penalty. But, leaders from to the two Jewish congregations affected by the shooting, the Dor Hadash and New Light congregation, asked the federal government to not seek the death penalty.

Is there a consensus view in the Jewish community -- and as a Jew, let me say, I know it's troubling to ever asked for a consensus among our people -- but is there a view that is prevailing?

BERNSTEIN: Well, I think as you indicate, people have different perspectives and views on it. And honestly for me, you know, I'm not one of the families who was directly affected. And so, it's hard for me to say one way or the other.

What it is, I think the consensus is certainly that this person has to be held accountable for their actions, and let the justice department figure out how to do that best.

TAPPER: Michael Bernstein, Elie Honig, good to see you both of you. Thank you so much for discussing a difficult day, and a difficult event. Appreciate it. Coming up, the next step for Texas lawmakers after impeaching the

state's Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, and the response that impeachment vote is getting from state Republican leaders.

And this programming note. Join me for a CNN Republican town hall with former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley. That's Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.

We'll be right back.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, today, not much of a response from Texas Republicans after the impeachment of one of their own, Attorney General Ken Paxton. One of the open-ended questions, will his wife, who is a state senator, recuse herself from the trial? Or will she join her colleagues in determining whether her husband gets to stay in office?

As CNN's Ed Lavandera reports, the trial in the state Senate is expected to take place this summer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The articles of impeachment. --

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The group of Texas House members who will present the evidence in the trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton, delivered the articles of impeachment to the state senate. It's been 106 years since the last statewide officeholder in Texas was impeached.

Back then, it was a governor named James Ferguson, who was known as Paw. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says a committee of senators will establish the rules for the trial in the coming weeks. But beyond that, Patrick is refusing to answer questions about the fellow Republican who he has worked closely with since Paxton was elected in 2014.

LT. GOVERNOR DAN PATRICK (R), TEXAS): There will be witnesses, and they will be put under oath, and they will be cross-examined, I'm sure, by both sides. It will be a regular trial. And at the end of that trial, once the facts have laid out, the senators will vote.

LAVANDERA: The upcoming summer of impeachment in Texas is exposing the political fault lines within the state's Republican Party. Ken Paxton's allies are targeting House Speaker Dade Phelan, the Republican who presided over the impeachment vote, is unapologetic about the 20 articles of impeachment brought against the attorney general.

DADE PHELAN (R), SPEAKER, TEXAS STATE HOUSE: The Texas house spoke, we send a strong message for the future of Texas. LAVANDERA: A House committee started investigating Paxton in March,

after he requested $3.3 million in taxpayer funds, to pay for a legal settlement, stemming from a lawsuit brought by whistleblowers who alleged improper behavior involving a prominent campaign donor. The articles of impeachment go further into a pattern of corruption, including bribery, obstruction of justice, and allegations of an extramarital affair.

The attorney general has been temporarily removed from office, and denies any wrongdoing.

KEN PAXTON (R), TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: This shameful process was curated from the start as an act of political retribution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all love Ken Paxton around these parts, right?

LAVANDERA: Paxton is hoping to generate grassroots support like this rally held in his home county, in hopes of winning over the state senators who will decide his fate.


PAXTON: Every politician who supports this deceitful impeachment attempt will inflict lasting damage on the credibility of the Texas house.

LAVANDERA: Paxton's wife Angela Paxton is a state senator, and there are calls for her to recuse herself from the trial. She was not said what she will do.

A group of 12 House representatives will present the evidence against Ken Paxton, the majority of them, Republicans.

ANDREW MURR (R), TEXAS STATE HOUSE: This is about facts. This is about evidence. At the end of the day, my colleagues and I will not stand for public corruption. And that's why we're proceeding to a trial in the Texas senate.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Jake, Ken Paxton is also accused of calling House members before the impeachment vote, threatening him -- threatening them to vote for him in that vote. The league, the head of the House committee that brought the impeachment articles of impeachment against him, was asked if this could lead to further articles of impeachment. He would refuse to answer that question as well.

TAPPER: All right. Ed Lavandera in Dallas, Texas, for us. Thank you so much.

CNN spoke with an 11-year-old boy who was shot by a cop this month in Mississippi. What this child told us about his terrifying ordeal, still, he suffering ten days after the incident.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TAPPER: Our national lead now, an our national lead now, an 11-year- old boy tells CNN his harrowing story after being shot by police officer after he called 911 for help.




TAPPER: Aderrien Murry called police because his mom was allegedly being harassed by an ex-boyfriend in Indianola, Mississippi, earlier this month. The responding officer, Greg Capers, reportedly asked for those inside the house to come outside, Aderrien's mom says that's when her son was shot in the chest. Capers has been placed under administrative leave, and family has now filed a $5 million federal lawsuit against the city, and several officers.

CNN's Nick Valencia is in Mississippi for us.

And, Nick, you just spoke with Aderrien, how is he doing.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is still in a lot of pain, Jake. In fact we noticed several times during the interview, he had noticeable shortness of breath. He says he's having trouble sleeping. But, really, what he's most bummed out about is not being able to play with his friends. Because he still recovering from being shot in the chest, he can't do normal things that everyday kids do like go swimming, or go running with his friends.

He is remarkably positive about this, but despite his positive attitude, he does say that when he's alone for too long with his thoughts, his mind goes to dark places about what happened.


MURRY: Sometimes I can see myself laying up inside a coffin up. Those are my thoughts at night -- and sometimes I think people are watching me. But my main thought is me dead.


VALENCIA: Aderrien was so convinced that he was going to die that day that he tells me he was giving his mom his final words, telling her to say sorry to the family members that he was bad in front of, sorry to his teacher.

His mother tells me that she's just so overfilled with joy that her son survived that shooting, that she really isn't angry at the police officer, but did emphasize that she wants him fired. Although she said she's praying for him, saying that he's gone through a lot after mistakenly shooting her son. You mentioned the $5 million lawsuit, the family filed that earlier today, a federal lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has taken over the lead as this incident was captured on body camera. But MBI saying they aren't going to release that footage until their investigation is wrapped up.

And just very quickly, Jake, we just spoke to the mayor here in Indianola. We asked him if he supports the firing of this officer, he says he just can't do that right now without knowing all of the facts. We have repeatedly tried to reach out to Sergeant Greg Capers, but he has not responded to our repeated calls -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Does Speaker McCarthy have the votes? The key test happening right now on Capitol Hill that might put that debt deal in jeopardy.

Plus, the response from Vladimir Putin today on Russia, after a series of drones hit Moscow.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, could artificial intelligence destroy the human race? Well, A.I. industry leaders issue a new extinction warning. But do they have a solution, or do they just plan on making money off of this until the end is nigh?

Plus, she once graced the covers of magazines as the world's youngest self-made female billionaire. But now, Theranos founder and fraudster Elizabeth Holmes is gracing the art of a Texas prison.

And leading this hour, dueling drone attacks on Russia's and Ukraine's capitals. For the 17th time this month, Russian missiles targeted Kyiv, hitting residential buildings and setting people scrambling for shelter. At least one person was killed.

Hours later, a drone assault on Moscow injured two, some drone debris landing in a tony Russian neighborhood containing one of Putin's official residences.

As CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports for us now, Russians may finally be feeling the horror of war on their own doorstep.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Kremlin controlled media in a frenzy, with special programming after Russia says its capital was attacked by Ukrainian drones.

OLGA SKABEYEVA, RUSSIAN STATE TV ANCHOR (through translator): We begin with breaking news, Moscow and its region were attacked by Ukrainian army drones. PLEITGEN: The Russians say they'd downed eight drones in total, some

over an upscale district close to one of Vladimir Putin's official residences, bringing some of the UAVs off course with electronic measures, but also firing missiles to take out five of them.

The Ukrainians deny any involvement in the attack, but Russian President Vladimir Putin ripped into Kyiv, accusing Ukraine's leadership of targeting Russian civilians.